Message from Suzanne:
Thanks for attending the Cottage food safety class at the Growing Acres conference in Austin. Below are answers to the questions asked in class.
Q: What is a jelmeter? Where to find? How expensive? Is it necessary?
A: A jelmeter is a glass tube with openings at each end. It is designed to estimate the amount of pectin in fruit juice and how much sugar you should add to from a gel. It is rarely used to today. Alcohol test, cooking test, thermometers and spoon sheet tests have replaced the jelmeter. More here: http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/jams-jellies/making-jelly/
Q: Can I use Norwex™ cloths for sanitizing food contact surfaces?
A: Manufacturers claim the Norwex™ cloth ‘self-purifies” because of the antibacterial silver embedded into the cloth. The silver in the microfiber cloth does not clean the surface but is embedded in the cloth to inactivate the bacteria and virus in the cloth. But does it work? A microbiologist did independent testing on Norwex®, e-cloth®, Pollycloth™ cloths and found there was live bacteria on all cloths after 27.5 hours. Check out the results here:
Heat or chemicals are two valid methods to sanitize food contact surfaces effectively. Ohio State University has information on using inexpensive household food-safe products like chlorine bleach, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to sanitize. View here. https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/kitchen-sanitize.pdf
Q: Can I use the cottage food exemption to process my honey and boil my maple syrup in my home kitchen. I don't have a facility that would meet the good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to process these items under the product of the farm exemption?
A: Yes. You can use the cottage food exemption for non-potentially hazardous products of the farm like honey and maple syrup. More info here on GMPs:
Here are a few resources I mentioned in class that you may want to check out:
Cottage food FAQs
Cottage food resource hub
http://www.extension.umn.edu/f ood/food-safety/food-entrepren eurs/cottage-food-resource-hub /index.html
Minnesota Cottage food blog: https:// mncottagefoodlaw.wordpress. com/ http://blog-cottage-food. extension.umn.edu/
Once you are registered, you can ask to join the MN registered cottage food producer Facebook page: https://www.facebook. com/groups/610571982425738/
Keep me posted on your cottage food endeavors.
Suzanne Driessen, MA, MCHES®
Extension Educator, Food Safety
University of Minnesota Extension
Extension Regional Office, St. Cloud
3601 18th Street South, Suite 113
St. Cloud, MN 56301-6012
Direct line: 320.203.6057